Briefly Noted

All Things Rumi

By Jane Lyon

Rumi Poetry Club: October 3, 7pm (first Tuesday of each month) @ Anderson-Foothill Library (1135 S 2100 E).

Rumi Festival: September 30, 2-4:30pm, Marmalade Library (280 W 500 N).

Poets shape our culture and refine our soul and their words are sources of wisdom and inspiration even after they are long gone. One poet whose words of wisdom have lasted through the ages and have inspired across cultural boarders is the 13th century Persian poet Rumi.

In the sea of serenity and peace, I dissolved
like salt.
Belief, non-belief, conviction and doubt
– none remained.
A star appeared inside my heart.
The seven heavens disappeared in that
star’s light.

For those familiar with this ancient mystic, choosing just one favorite piece of writing is an impossible task. In his lifetime (1207-1273) Rumi composed about 70,000 verses of poetry. Almost 60% of these poems are love poems, lyrical odes and quatrains collected in his book the Divan Shams (also called Divan Kabir). And he composed many more parables and teaching stories in verse, collected in the Masnavi Ma’navi (“Spiritual Couplets”), many of which celebrate love as a journey through the heart.

This month, Rumi enthusiasts the world over will celebrate the artist’s 810th birthday. For the members of Salt Lake City’s own Rumi Poetry Club, September 30 will be an occasion to celebrate the poet’s life and work, as well as a chance to mark the 10th anniversary of the Club.

Founded in 2007 by Rasoul Sorkhabi, who first read Rumi’s poetry as a child growing up in Iran, the Salt Lake Rumi Poetry Club has been a monthly gathering celebrating poetry, community, connection and contemplation. Each year the club picks one of Rumi’s many books of poetry as the focus for
their group discussions. While a few members might bring with them a poem to share, all are invited to contribute their various perspectives on the poet’s intention and meaning during the rich discussion that follows each reading. “The modern soul is dehydrated,” says Sorkhabi. “Spiritual arts such as poetry, music, painting and also intimacy with nature risk being lost in this age of technology.” Though we have all but lost our connection to these cultural pillars, while we clutch our phones and cheap entertainment ever closer, Sorkhabi and the club members remain convinced that they can resurrect Rumi and understand his relevance today. “I believe Rumi is more a poet of the future than a poet of the past,” says Sorkhabi, “and his vision will continue to become even more significant.”
—Carl Rabke

This article was originally published on September 27, 2017.